Glickman, Gordon, and Ross-Gordon (1998) tell the following story:
When one of the authors gave a presentation to a Michigan school board to explain the need to allocate more money for professional development, he used an analogy to the automobiles made in Detroit. When a customer purchases a new car costing upwards $30,000, he or she brings it in every 5,000 miles for preventive maintenance and fine-tuning. The customer continues to put additional money into the car to prolong its life and performance. Simply to run the car into the ground would be a dumb way to protect such an investment! In education, the school board is the customer, who purchases more than a new car with its $30,000 initial investment—it purchases a living and breathing professional! Without resources for maintaining, fine-tuning, and reinvigorating the investment, the district will run teachers into the ground. (p. 347)
Before the mid-1980s, staff development was the object of very little research. Showers, Joyce, and Bennett (cited in Glickman et al.,1998) mentioned that until 1957, only about 50 studies had been conducted on professional development in schools. Now several times that number of studies are being conducted every year; however, some of these studies have attracted negative reviews. McLaughlin and Berman, and Henderson (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995) state that staff development and inservice education remain part of a field with few theoretical or conceptual roots. Brimm and Toillet (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995) mention that staff development activities have little respect from practitioners, while Swenson (1981) affirms that staff development has a meager research base. Daresh (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995) confirms Swenson’s findings when he claims that research on staff development and inservice education contained two serious flaws:
First the research techniques used to study staff development and inservice education have been seriously limited. Most work used survey questionnaires exclusively, for example. Second, most research has centered on only three targets: (1) the evaluation of specific inservice or staff development models, (2) the content of inservice and staff development activities, and (3) the delivery systems typically used. (p. 358)
Additionally, staff development programs did not provide the support system needed in the workplace to maintain innovations in teaching.
They say that in the orientation stage, teachers are given rudimentary knowledge of skills. If staff development programs stop at this stage, then they are ineffective (p. 361).
They state also that in the integration stage, teachers are assisted as they apply previous learning in their classrooms and schools. Two other aspects of integration are: (1) learning to adapt general learning to specific situations, (2) effective use of the new learning (p. 361).
Finally, they mention that in the refinement stage, teachers move from basic competence to expertness through continuous experimentation and reflection. Teachers in the refinement stage synthesize different types of previous learning in order to create new learning (p. 362).
Staff development is important for two main reasons: (1) for improving the entire professional teaching staff of a school, and (2) for improving instruction and learning.
Of equal importance to our Caribbean context is the need to effectuate a smooth transfer of novice teachers from training schools to the classroom. New teachers are faced with several challenges upon beginning their teaching career: (1) class assignments, (2) a change in school culture, (3) classroom discipline and management, (3) working with a new curriculum they have not established, (4) demanding teaching loads with assignment of extra duties, (5) motivating students, (6) dealing with individual differences among students, (7) assessing students, and (8) communicating with parents.
Being able to evaluate the different needs of beginner teachers plays an important role in providing effective support. Beginner teachers come to the classroom with different skills and needs, and they react to teaching in different ways. Glasberg (cited in Brophy & Good, 1997) found that more mature beginner teachers emphasized the need to understand individual students and to be flexible, whereas less mature novices held a more restricted view of teaching. Thus, new teachers may need different types of inservice education.
Although several models exist for analyzing the development level of teachers (example, Hunt & Joyce, 1981; Sprinthall & Thies-Sprinthall, 1983, cited in Brophy & Good, 1987), the first explicit theory describing teacher development was proposed by Fuller (1969) and elaborated by Fuller and Brown (1975). According to these studies, "the first stage of teaching is concern with survival. . . . The second stage is concern with teaching situation. . . and the third stage reflects concern with students" (p. 474). An effective staff development program will pay attention to the different needs of novices, and it will include appropriate systemic strategies for long-term support.
Relevant to the satisfaction of beginner teachers’ needs is Maslow’s Theory of Growth Motivation. In essence, Maslow (1987) proposes that people are motivated to satisfy deficiency needs only when those needs are unmet. Self-actualization depends on satisfaction of lower needs, belief in certain values. For the beginner teacher, self-actualization will occur when the lower needs mentioned by Fuller and Brown (1975) would have been met.
According to Howey, continuing pedagogical development involves "learning about more effective instructional techniques in the classroom, such as classroom management skills and teacher presentation skills" (p. 370).
Furthermore, continuing understanding and discovery of self demand "learning more about developmental needs; for example, in interpersonal skills" (p. 370). Crucial to teachers’ growth at a personal level is the availability of avenues to interact with peers and to have opportunities to maintain and develop creativity. The teaching profession is characterized by isolation. Teachers are cut off from one another as they spend the whole day in their classrooms with little outlet to share views with other teachers. An effective staff development program will cater to these needs, and it will encourage and stimulate personal and professional relationships that will give teachers a sense of community.
Additionally, continuing cognitive development consists of "determining the level of cognitive ability and development of teachers so that future staff development and inservice schemes might be able to address potential differences more completely" (p. 370).
On the other hand, continuing theoretical development is "contributing to the attainment of goals set forth in a selected educational theory" (p. 372),
Thus, continuing professional development means "increasing the competence levels of teachers in a way that would enable these individuals to contribute to a knowledge base which would, in turn, also contribute to the development of teaching as a profession" (p. 372).
Furthermore, continuing career development refers to "creating greater leadership skills and other competencies that might lead teachers eventually to greater career development opportunities." This view is consistent with that of Brophy and Good (1997) who imply that although staff development’s primary goals is to make all teachers instructional leaders, it is also concerned with increasing teacher leadership outside of their classroom responsibilities and subject-matter knowledge.
Some of these critical functions can also be applied to novice teachers, taking into consideration their level of teaching maturity and their specific needs.
Staff development for experienced and successful teachers present greater challenges to the principal, as they require assessment of all these various levels of development. Nevertheless, appropriate procedural methods and teacher participation in the process will provide the appropriate feedback needed to carry out such a monumental, but not impossible task.
The majority of articles on the issue of staff development strongly suggests that most teachers are dissatisfied with the kind of inservice education provided, and that strategic and purpose-driven staff development is and will continue to be a major point for attention in the 21st century.
As Daresh and Playko (1995) suggest, educational reform requires that we pay attention to discovering how classroom teachers increase the effectiveness of the learning process. Linda Darling-Hammond (1996), executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, in an article entitled, "The Quiet Revolution Rethinking Teacher Development," gives us the imperative for such a reform. She says:
These initiatives are partly a response to major changes affecting our society and our schools. Because rapid social and economic transformations require greater learning from all students, society is reshaping the mission of education. Schools are now expected not only to offer education, but ensure learning. Teachers are expected not only to "cover the curriculum" but to create a bridge between the needs of each learner and the attainment of challenging learning goals.
These objectives—a radical departure from education’s mission during the past century—demand that teachers understand learners and their learning as deeply as they comprehend their subjects, and that schools structure themselves to support deeper forms of student and teacher learning than they currently permit. The invention of 21st century schools that can educate all children well, rests foremost upon the development of a highly qualified and committed teaching force. (p. 5)
A strong advocate for teaching practices that support student learning, Darling-Hammond (1998) in another article entitled, "Teacher Learning that Supports Student Learning," elaborates further on what teachers need to know to help children meet today’s standards. She emphasizes the variety of technical, cognitive, affective, analytical, and reflective skills teachers need to meet the new demands of school reform. She says: "First, teachers need to understand subject matter deeply and flexibly, so that they can help students create useful cognitive maps, relate ideas to one another, and address misconceptions" (p. 7). To accomplish this first goal, skillful teachers will possess various competencies and knowledge: (1) knowledge of child and adolescent development and an understanding of how to support growth in the cognitive, social, and emotional domains; (2) competencies in understanding a child’s milieu (family and cultural background), and how this milieu affects a child’s approach to learning, and how the child develops intelligences; (3) discriminatory knowledge of material for different purposes and types of learning relevant to different contexts.
She continues: "Teachers need to know about curriculum resources and technologies to connect their students with sources of information and knowledge that allow them to explore ideas, acquire and synthesize information, and frame and solve problems" (p. 8). Teachers need to know how to promote collaboration among students, teachers, and how to work well with parents.
Finally, she says: "Teachers need to be able to analyze and reflect on their practice to assess the effects of their teaching, and to refine and improve their instruction" (p. 8).
Green (1996) brings another perspective to the question, "What do we want our students to know and be able to do?" His research indicates that in general, the goals listed fit nicely into the four well-known classical categories suggested in the research of Goodlad, Sirotnik, and their colleagues: (1) academic, (2) social/civic, (3) personal, and (4) career. That students should be lifelong learners emerged as a common factor in three of these categories. The research shows also that present methods of teaching are not congruent with stated academic goals such as "think critically, understand written material, think creatively, be self-directed learner" (p. 11). In other words, 21st century students must become strategic learners if they hope to cope with the massive production of information that typifies this service and information-driven economy.
Using Bloom’s levels of learning (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), Green asserts that teachers are still using the lecture/recitation method and lower thinking skills such as memorization, recitation, summarization, naming, recalling, and paraphrasing. As he points out, the lecture-and-recitation method does not teach students to apply the new information to other situations or to analyze it, integrate it with previous knowledge, or evaluate it. More than this, he says that textbooks are oriented toward Bloom’s two lowest levels—knowledge and comprehension. Teachers who want to develop students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills will utilize relevant instructional approaches.
Staff development programs should provide training and practice in powerful new ways of teaching. Green concludes that at minimum, Adventist teachers should know and use the following teaching methods: (1) dimensions of learning, (2) models of learning, (3) cooperative learning, (4) integrated thematic instruction, (5) use of multiple intelligences, use of learning styles, use of technology, distance learning, biblical values and character development. A brief review of some of these teaching methods and techniques will provide meaningful insight into their nature.
Models of teaching, described by Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil, are a modification of Jerome S. Bruner’s, Jacqueline J. Goodnow’s, and George A. Austin’s concept attainment model found in A Study of Thinking published in 1959. Gunter, Estes, and Schwab (1995) summarized the concept attainment model in these words:
The concept attainment model describes the steps in teaching the meaning of a concept by presenting positive and negative examples of the concept to the class until the students can identify the essential attributes and state a concept definition. In addition, this model helps students understand the process through which concepts are defined. The teacher may present a new concept to the class or focus on one particular aspect of a familiar concept. Because the understanding of concepts is so essential to learning in the classroom, the time taken to identify and clarify these concepts is time well spent. In addition, teachers find that in preparing to teach this model, they clarify their own understanding of essential concepts. (p. 112)
Howard Gardner, the originator of multiple intelligences theories (cited in Sergiovanni, 1991), proposes that people possess seven relatively autonomous intellectual competencies: linguistic and mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, and two personal intelligences (one focusing on self-understanding and the other on the understanding of others.) Utilizing multiple intelligences theory, the skillful teacher will recognize and capitalize on the student’s dominant intelligence.
Learning style refers to how a person prefers to gather and utilize information. Several learning styles have been identified: (1) sequential vs. random learning; (2) left brain/right brain theory; (3) visual, auditory, and kinesthetic theories; (4) social and independent learning theories.
Marks-Beale (1994) provides an easy-to-understand description of these learning styles. She says that a preference toward the sequential learning style means that one tends toward a more logical, step-by-step approach to taking in information (p. 34). A preference toward the random learning style means that one learns in a less structured manner (p. 35).
Furthermore, she states that the left brain/right brain theory, also known as hemisphericity, says that the brain has two hemispheres, a left side and a right side. Each side represents certain qualities. A left brain person tends to resemble a sequential learner, while a right brain person tends to resemble a random learner. She mentions that persons who have researched and written about this theory include Roger Sperry, Kenneth and Rita Dunn, and Ned Herrmann (p. 44).
Moreover, she observes that visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning theories can be summarized into two words: sensory theory. Sensory theory indicates a certain preference in utilizing the senses to absorb information. A visual learner prefers using the eyes to learn. She respond bests to demonstrations, pictures, and visual aids. An auditory learner prefers using the ears to learn. He would rather hear lectures than see demonstrations. A kinesthetic learner prefers using the body to learn. He would rather be physically involved in learning. John Grinder and Richard Bandler have researched and written about this theory. Social and independent learning theories advance that some people prefer to learn independently while others prefer to learn in a group (p. 45). Teachers who consider learning styles theories will use a variety of instructional approaches in their classrooms.
Cooperative learning, an old concept with a new twist, aims at improving student achievement using small groups. Cooperation, socialization skills, and class unity are some of its by-products.
Thus, improved teaching means improved and increased student learning. One could ask who in an elementary school should initiate staff development programs? The writer of this paper believes that the principal should be the initiator and facilitator of a staff development program.
The Principal as Initiator and FacilitatorOf Staff Development
Because the principal has a global, comprehensive, and intimate knowledge of the school and of its various components and resources, she is the person best qualified to initiate and facilitate staff development. One of the most important functions of the principal is to support and evaluate the instructional efforts of teachers.
Sergiovanni (1991) in examining the principal’s job states that "successful leadership and management within the principalship are directed toward the improvement of teaching and learning for students" (p. 16). He provides a comparison of principal leadership in effective and successful schools.
In effective schools principals are instructional leaders who hold strong views about instruction and exhibit strong and highly visible managerial skills to ensure that all features of the model (objectives, curriculum, teaching, testing, expectations, and classroom climate are properly aligned. . . In successful schools, principals are educational leaders with strong views about schooling, teaching, and learning. . . . (p. 96)
This comparison emphasizes the key role the principal plays in directing and influencing the instructional process and outcomes of the school. The principal is able to exert that influence because her principalship endows her with the power to do so. Sergiovanni describes this power as "educational force." He says:
When expressing the educational force, the principal assumes the role of "clinical practitioner" who brings expert professional knowledge and bearing to teaching, educational program development, and supervision. As clinical practitioner, the principal is adept at diagnosing educational problems; counseling teachers; providing for supervision, evaluation, and staff development; and developing curriculum. (p. 102)
On the other hand, staff development should be a collaborative effort between principal and teachers. The principal, as leader of leaders, recognizes the role teachers must play in taking responsibility for improving their own instruction and for planning, implementing, and evaluating all faculty staff development programs. The involvement of teachers in planning staff development programs will guarantee that these programs meet their needs and interests. Also, they will be able to advise the principal about the type of inservice education needed to meet these needs, and they will be able to provide meaningful feedback to the principal as the staff development and inservice education activities are implemented. Brophy and Good (1997) state that "schools where teachers engage in considerable job-related discussion and share in decisions about instructional programs and staff development are more effective than schools where decisions are made by rule-bound bureaucratic procedures" (p. 469).
Now that the role of the principal and teachers in creating a staff development program is established, the writer will turn her attention to its critical components.
A strategic staff development hinges on the vision, mission, and goals of a school. Before planning the program, the principal considers what instructional improvements are needed. In general, instructional improvements include: (1) improving technical skills, (2) increasing repertoire of strategies, (3) developing teacher’s individual strengths, (5) building competence and strengths in teacher’s weak areas. Also, the principal addresses which aspects of instruction should be changed. Is it the content, the knowledge, or the skills? Is it all of them? Once these are determined, the principal selects methods and approaches that most closely meet the characteristics of a successful staff development program. Next, based on review and analysis of data gathered formally and informally through her own efforts and the participation of teachers, the principal establishes general objectives, specific objectives, topic priorities; chooses and matches type of staff development activities to teacher characteristics and learning needs; budgets; schedules and implements activities; chooses presenters and venues; monitors these activities; gets feedback from teachers; and prepares a sound evaluation instrument to assess the effectiveness of the staff development program. After careful review of the evaluation, the principal fine-tunes future plans.
1. Involvement in planning. Staff development activities tend to be more effective when participants have taken part in identifying the objectives and planning the activities.
2. Time for planning. Whether the staff development activities are mandated or participation is voluntary, participants need time away from their regular or administrative responsibilities in order to plan the program.
3. Involvement of principals. Staff development activities in which principals are active participants are more effective. Active involvement means that principals need to participate in most if not all of the activities in which their teachers are involved.
4. School board- or district-level support. For staff development activities to be effective, higher governing bodies’ support needs to be active and visible, especially through the approval of an adequate budget.
5. Expectations. Participants should know what is expected of them during the activities, as well as what they will be asked to do when the experience is over.
6. Opportunity for sharing. Staff development activities in which participants share and provide assistance to one another are more apt to attain their objectives than activities in which participants work alone.
7. Continuity. Staff development activities that are thematic and linked to school goals are more effective in producing significant, long-lasting results than a series of one-shot activities on a variety of topics.
8. Follow-up. Staff development is more successful if follow-up activities are part of the design of the program.
9. Opportunity for practice. Staff development activities that include demonstrations and practice with feedback are more likely to accomplish their objectives than those activities that expect participants to store up ideas and skills for use at a future time.
10. Active involvement. Successful staff development activities are those which provide participants with a chance to be actively involved. Participants are more likely to apply what they have learned when they have "hands-on" experiences with materials, actively participate in exercises that will later be used with students, and are involved in small group discussions.
11. Opportunity for choice. When participants have chosen to be involved in a program, there is a far greater likelihood that the experience will be helpful. A meaningful series of alternative activities should also be offered within a staff development program.
12. Building on Strengths. People like to be recognized as valued, competent, liked, and needed. Staff development activities that view each participant as a resource are usually more favorably received by participants.
13. Content. Successful staff development activities are often geared toward a relatively narrow grade-level range and address a specific topic or a specific set of skills. They help participants develop a plan that is ready for intermediate use or a set of instructional materials which translate the idea presented into practice.
14. The presenter. Successful presenters approach a subject from the participant’s point of view. The presenter’s expertise is important, as is his or her ability to convey genuine enthusiasm for the subject.
15. Individualization. Staff development programs that provide different experiences for participants who are at different stages of their development are more apt to obtain their objectives than those in which all participants engage in common activities.
16. Number of participants. Some presentations are as effective with 100 participants as they are with 10; however, for staff development activities requiring personal contact, informality, and an interchange of ideas, 7 to 10 participants appear to be optimal. There are exceptions based on the skill of the presenter, the organization of the activity, and the nature of the topic.
17. The learning environment. As a general rule, successful staff development activities occur within a low-threat, comfortable setting in which there is a degree of "psychological safety." Openness to learning is enhanced when peers can share problems and solutions.
18. The physical facility. Accessibility of supporting materials, appearance of the facility, room temperature, lighting, auditory and visual distractions, and many other physical factors have subtle but sometimes profound effects on the success of a staff development activity.
19. Time of day and season. Staff development activities which take place at the end of a school day are often less successful than those offered when participants are fresh. Further, staff development activities are less likely to be successful when they are scheduled at times of the year when seasonal activities (for example, parent conferences, holiday celebrations) occur.
Once the principal is aware of these guidelines, her task in planning the staff development is easier.
Green (1996) insists in two articles, "Making Decisions About the Content of Staff Development Programs," and "How Do We Maintain New Practices in Staff Development" that "decisions about staff development programs should be informed by research" (p. 10). As he explains, teachers should acquaint themselves with the findings of research that relates to their questions and problems in the classroom, and they should design new action research around their own work and that of their students. Such research, he says, should deal primarily with student learning.
He states further that staff development efforts should follow research-based methods. One of these research-based methods is the Four-Step Plan described by Joyce and Showers (1987): "(1) presenting the theory or content of the practice; (2) modeling or demonstrating the new practice; (3) practicing the new strategy; and (4) receiving expert feedback." These four steps can be compared to the three stages of staff development recognized by Glickman et al. Combined and utilized, the Four-Step Plan and the three stages of staff development can ensure that teachers maintain innovative practices learned during inservice education or staff development activities.
The research-based method ensures that relevant content and topics will be selected based on current research.
Green (1996) offers three criteria for making decisions about the content of staff development programs. He says that although not exhaustive, these criteria will help to direct the decision-making processes.
1. What does current research recommend?
2. Does the content fit our goals? and
3. Do the methods and content reflect our values? (p. 9)
The supervision approach has received strong support from experts such as Daresh, Oliva, Pawlas, Playko, Sergiovanni, Sturges, and others. As Sergiovanni (1991) states, this approach responds to the need of supervising novice and experienced teachers. The principal can match the four options of supervision (clinical, collegial, self-directed, and informal) to teacher needs, professional development levels, and personality characteristics. Embedded in the supervision approach is the evaluation of teachers in the classroom, which seen in its broader judgmental conception, is a powerful tool in improving instruction and student learning. The writer will describe briefly these four options, and she will show that each option lends itself to the latest types of staff development activities suited for novice and experienced teachers.
The classroom is the place where clinical supervision occurs. The principal acts as an expert, analytical, and unobtrusive observer; she interacts individually with teachers, and she provides feedback that is of interest and value to teachers for improving teaching and student learning. Teachers also play an active role in the process. As Sergiovanni points out: "It is the teacher who decides the course of a clinical supervisory cycle, the issues to be discussed, and for what purpose" (p. 298).
Clinical supervision lends itself to individually planned staff development for experienced teachers within which they set individual goals and objectives, plan and carry out activities, and assess results.
Allan Glathhorn (cited in Sergiovanni, 1991) describes collegial supervision as cooperative professional development within which teachers agree to work together for their own professional development. This concept ties in very well with collegial support groups, networks, and teacher centers. Beginner and experienced teachers can benefit from these collegial activities. In collegial support groups, teachers within the same school engage in group inquiry, address common problems, jointly implement instructional materials. Henriquez-Roark’s and Green’s study groups (as described in "the Missing Piece of the Staff-Development Puzzle: Teacher Study Groups") are an example of collegial support groups. In networks, teachers from different schools share information, concerns, and accomplishments and engage in common learning through computer links, newsletters, fax machines, and occasional seminars and conferences. In teacher centers, teachers can meet at a central location to engage in professional dialogue, develop skills, plan innovations, and gather or create instructional materials. A modified version of this type of collegial support is mentoring. In a mentoring program, an experienced teacher is assigned to a novice for the purpose of providing individualized, ongoing professional support.
With self-directed supervision, as Sergiovanni (1991) indicates, teachers work alone and assume responsibility for their own professional development. They assess their own needs and develop from the assessment a yearly plan comprising targets and goals. This form of supervision goes well with the latest practice of building teacher portfolios. A teacher’s portfolio enables him to self-assess, self-evaluate, and self-regulate.
An informed principal will combine the research-based approach and the supervision approach to develop strategic programs for the school.
Another important aspect of planning a staff development program is matching activities to adult characteristics and individual learning needs. The next section will deal with this aspect of staff development.
Knowles (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995) identified four critical characteristics of adults and their patterns of learning:
1. As a person matures, his or her self-concept moves from one of dependency to one of self-direction.
2. The mature person tends to accumulate a growing reservoir of experience that provides a resource for learning.
3. The adult’s readiness to learn becomes increasingly oriented toward the developmental tasks of his or her assigned social roles.
4. The adult’s time perspective changes from postponed application of knowledge to immediate application, and accordingly his or her orientation toward learning shifts from subject-centeredness to problem-centeredness. (p. 363)
Wood and Thompson (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995) add some salient aspects of adult learning. They say that adults will learn when the goals and objectives of a learning activity are considered by the learner to be realistic, related, and important to a specific issue at hand. They add that adult learning is highly ego-involved. When a person is unsuccessful at a given learning task, it is likely that he or she will take it as an indication of personal incompetence and failure. Also, adults will tend to resist any learning experience that they believe is either an open or implied attack on the their personal or professional competence (p. 364).
Taking into consideration these characteristics of adult learners, what kinds of activities should the principal choose for workshops and seminars? The Illinois Staff Development Council, using John Goodlad’s research, provides the following guidelines:
Adults prefer learning situations which are practical and problem-centered so give overviews, summaries, examples, and use stories; plan for direct application of the new information; design in collaborative, problem-solving activities; anticipate problems applying the new ideas, offer suggested uses. Guard against becoming too theoretical.
Also, adults prefer to promote their positive self-esteem, so provide low-risk activities in small group settings; plan for building success incrementally; help them become more effective and competent. Remember that readiness to learn depends on self-esteem.
Likewise, adults prefer learning situations which integrate new ideas with existing knowledge, so help them recall what they already know that relates to the new ideas; help them see how the new information is relevant to them; plan ways they can share their experience with each other. Find ways to assess participant knowledge before an event.
Moreover, adults prefer learning situations which show respect for the individual learner, so provide for their needs through breaks, snacks, tea, comfort; provide a quality, well organized experience that uses time effectively; avoid jargon and don’t "talk down" to participants; validate and affirm their knowledge, contributions, and successes; let the presenter ask for feedback on his work or ideas, and let him provide input opportunities. Choose words carefully to avoid negative perceptions.
Besides, adults prefer learning situations which capitalize on their experience, so don’t ignore what they know, it’s a resource for the presenter; plan alternative activities so he can adjust to fit their experience level; create activities that use their experience and knowledge; listen before, during and after the event. Provide for the possibility of a need to unlearn old habits.
Finally, adults prefer learning situations which allow choice and self-direction, so build plans around their needs, compare goals and actual achievements; share agenda and assumptions and ask for input on them; ask what they know about the topic; ask what they would like to know about the topic; build in options within the plan so change can be made if needed.
Because teachers are at different stages of teaching experience and have different learning needs, inservice education should be tailored to meet these needs. Turner (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995) defined four stages of professional growth reflected within most school staffs. Of particular interest to this paper are three of these stages: (1) the initial training period, (2) the security-building period, and (3) the maturing period.
He says that teachers who have from one to five years’ experience fall into the initial training period. The principal will design activities that will address the concerns of beginner teachers such as discipline, routine organizational and administrative chores, etc. (p. 366).
Also, he says that teachers with five to fifteen years experience belong to the security-building period. At this stage, teachers are interested in increasing their personal knowledge and skills. The principal will make sure to provide inservice and staff development activities that promote individual growth (p. 366).
Furthermore, he says that master teachers who have an undefined number of years of experience but a clear depth of professional expertise are in the maturing period. The principal will tap into their knowledge and skills as additional resources in promoting professional growth (p. 366).
If all teachers in the school belong to one stage of professional growth, the principal can use the "Levels of Concern" method pioneered by Fuller, but built upon by Hall and Loucks (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995). Hall and Loucks suggest that an important way to differentiate needs of staff members is according to their levels of concern about a particular educational practice: (1) refocusing, (2) collaboration, (3) consequence, (4) management, (5) personal, (6) informational, (7) awareness.
They say that at the refocusing level, teachers believe they have some ideas about improving practices; while at the collaboration level, teachers are interested in combining their good ideas with the ideas of coworkers (p. 367).
Furthermore, they state that at the consequence level teachers are concerned with the extent to which there will be a positive impact on student learning; while at the management level teachers are concerned with getting materials ready for instruction (p. 367).
Moreover, they point out that at the personal level teachers are most interested in what personal effect a school practice will have on them (p. 367).
Finally, they assert that at the informational level teachers are most concerned with finding out basic information about a practice; while at the awareness level teachers are not interested in a particular issue of practice (p. 367).
Of what significance is the Level of Concerns method to the principal in planning staff development activities? Hall and Loucks (cited in Daresh & Playko, 1995) provide the answers:
1. The staff development leader must attend to the teachers’ concerns as well as to the content to be covered.
2. It is all right to have personal feelings.
3. Change cannot come overnight.
4. Teachers’ concerns might not be the same as those of staff developer.
5. Within any group, there is a variety of concerns. (p. 368)
An effective staff development program should include evaluation. Daresh and Playko (1995) mention that this area has been overlooked often; however, referring to Joyce and Showers (1998), they make the recommendations found in the next section.
They say that questions related to to the human resource development system help to determine generally how a system is doing. Is the system in good health? Does it achieve its purpose? How well does it provide for individuals, schools, and district initiatives (p. 371)?
Furthermore, they mention that questions related to the major dimensions of the system and the health of those dimensions should say how well individuals, schools, and system initiatives are being served. Answer to these questions should help improve each identified dimension within a system (p. 371).
Finally, they state that questions related to the study of specific programs and events within each dimension of a system should provide answers to the following: Are programs that give teachers the option to study teaching skills and strategies succeeding? Are school improvement programs being executed and affecting the lives of students in a positive way? Are school district initiatives being implemented, and are they improving students’ performance (p. 372)?
A search of the Internet on the evaluation of staff development programs proved fruitless. What the writer found, however, was a call for professional educators to submit articles for an upcoming issue on evaluating staff development. According to Joan Richardson (1998), the fall issue of the Journal of Staff Development, the flagship publication for the National Staff Development Council, will address these questions:
1. How do staff developers determine if staff development programs are achieving their desired results?
2. How can staff development programs be evaluated?
3. How can evaluation information be used to inform decision making, improve program effectiveness, and document progress?
4. How can evaluation results be presented in appropriate and meaningful ways?
5. What knowledge and skills do staff developers need to evaluate staff development?
As these questions indicate, preparing an evaluation instrument requires much thought and a high level of expertise. The principal will need to devise an evaluation instrument in collaboration with teachers, and refine it as time progresses. The results of the evaluation will give the principal all the information needed to assess and improve staff development programs.
The writer of this paper has endeavored to show that staff development is extremely important for improving instruction and student learning. She has done this by describing and explaining the need for, importance of, the role of the principal, and the nature of an effective staff development program.
The writer recommends that principals who want to have successful schools do the following:
1. Emphasize continuous staff development.
2. Implement mentoring and peer coaching for novice teachers.
3. Give teachers more time to practice and hone new teaching skills.
4. Provide the support system needed to maintain innovation in teaching.
5. Create an evaluation instrument to measure and document improvement in student learning as staff development programs are implemented.
6. Prepare an evaluation instrument to assess the effectiveness of staff development initiatives.
7. Allocate a greater percentage of the budget to sustain long-term staff development programs and inservice education.
8. Prepare special staff development activities for principals and vice-principals.
In future, the writer expects that as more schools embrace staff development and document their results, and as more research is conducted, quantitative and qualitative data will provide evidence that staff development is indeed critical to school development.
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